I served as the Assistant Director (not technically the 1st A.D. since we had no 2nd A.D.) on the Polaris principle photography last week, and I have to say it was a complete kick to do. It also kicked my ass!
In most any group of this kind you find the people that you can count on to get things done and those who will slack off. Fortunately, on this crew the balance was more in favor of the go-getters than the other.
As the A.D. my job was the run the set, which means to get the shooting schedule together and to make sure that everyone gets what they need, preferably before they ask for it. I think I was reasonably successful in this at least some of the time because in many instances when Dennis would say something like "John needs power for the sewing machine" I'd seen to it five minutes before.
Because I came into the project late, and the set wasn't done when we started, the first few days we tended to assemble the schedule on the day. When we fell way behind on our first two days I came up with a strategy to maximize coverage and knock out most of the closeups of the supporting cast in blocks, meaning there would be time to get the more complex master shots without having to spend a lot of time getting the closeups later. I am proudest of Wednesday, when we knocked out 11 pages of script, when our previous best had been about 5!
We still went over on several days when I'd hoped not to, but part of that was just the crew was smallish for this scale of production, and some members of the crew, whilst hard-working troopers, were new or newish to film production. At one point I had to chew everyone out because I couldn't get the set quiet. Grrrr! As I say, no one loves the A.D.!
The biggest problem I had were not having a dedicated script supervisor (Lucy Faria did the job when not on set, but she was often on camera), which meant my lunch and dinner breaks were often spent sitting on the set floor, spreading out the pages, and trying to figure out what we'd covered and what we'd missed.
The fun stuff was working with my boyfriend to detail and decorate the sets (we planted a nice Star Wars in-joke in the "brig" that I don't think they got in shot), talking some of the actors into doing funny bits during takes to break tension, and directing second unit type stuff, including security camera footage of a "redshirt" death, which looked fast, brutal and fantastic.
A lot of fun! But now, two days after we wrapped, I'm still exhausted and my feet hurt from being on them 12-14 hours a day for 8 days!
My heartfelt thanks to Dennis for giving me this opportunity to help make this happen.